Former NFL GM Mike Tannenbaum published a mock draft yesterday. He said it’s what he would do, rather than what he thinks will actually happen.

The Seahawks took Troy Fautanu, a consensus pick among the mocks these days. I still think it’s unlikely he’ll last to #14. Fautanu is the best left tackle prospect in the class for me. I think teams like the Saints will strongly consider him at #14 — and it won’t be a surprise if teams in the top-10 look very closely at Fautanu.

I wanted to touch on a different aspect of the mock, though. Tannenbaum has the Rams selecting Michael Penix Jr at #19. Firstly, I think this is very unlikely. Matt Stafford is contracted until 2026 and is really locked into LA’s cap for the next two years. There’s $47m in dead money attached to his deal next year. So realistically, provided he continues playing, Stafford is going to start for the Rams for at least two more seasons.

By 2026, Penix Jr would be 26 years old. I think it’s more likely the Rams will use the #19 pick to get an impact player, with the view of trying to be very competitive this year. After that, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they drafted someone like Spencer Rattler in round two. But even without Aaron Donald, I think they played well enough in 2023 to feel like they’re well placed to have a go next season. Signing Tre’Davious White yesterday suggests that’s how they’re thinking.

The reason I wanted to raise this, though, is to say if Penix Jr is being pitched as a realistic option for the Rams post-Stafford, why didn’t Tannenbaum pair him with Seattle?

The Seahawks have no commitment to Geno Smith beyond this year. They are clearly mindful of what the future looks like at quarterback. Ryan Grubb attended the Oregon pro-day, then went to Michigan and reportedly had a ‘lengthy meeting’ with J.J. McCarthy during the visit. Seattle were also one of a handful of teams to meet with Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels at the combine.

Yes, they just made a move for Sam Howell. They’ve also gone to great lengths to point out he is the backup this year. Speaking on the radio last week, John Schneider noted how important is was to add a QB — referencing the number of teams in the draft who had a need at the position and how that might hamper their attempts to pick one.

The Seahawks know everything they need to know about Penix Jr. They don’t need to do any homework here because Ryan Grubb has the best intel in the league on the Washington quarterback. Is Grubb attending the Oregon and Michigan pro-days to cross-reference and compare? Is it information gathering for the man who ultimately will be able to advise Schneider on Penix Jr?

The Howell trade theoretically provides insurance against the Raiders, Broncos, Vikings, Giants or anyone else taking Penix Jr before Seattle’s pick. But it also doesn’t prevent the Seahawks picking him if they truly believe he is the future.

We’ve probably analysed Penix Jr as much as any player during this draft cycle and I’m still in the same place I’ve always been. His arm talent is truly exceptional and for that reason, there’s a very real chance he will go in the top-15 and could be a legit option for the Seahawks if he reaches #16. There simply aren’t many players who can throw with his downfield ability and touch. Schneider wants field-tilting ability at the position and as we saw in the Texas playoff game, Penix Jr is capable of that. It was a masterful display.

Seattle’s scheme under Grubb will presumably take on a lot of the characteristics we saw at Washington. That involves attacking every blade of grass on the field in the passing game. We know Penix Jr can do that because we saw it for the last two years.

I also get the sense that Schneider is desperate to get more from D.K. Metcalf and wants a coordinator and a quarterback who can create 1v1 opportunities and attack them. I truly believe Schneider sees Metcalf as a potential top-25 player in the league and probably feels the Seahawks haven’t done enough to make that a reality. There isn’t one hint of hesitancy from Penix Jr on tape when he sees Rome Odunze 1v1. He goes after it, time and time again. He will not fear throwing to Metcalf in contested situations.

The counter, though, is obviously the injury history. The reports on a clean bill of health were premature at the combine and felt agent led. It doesn’t mean teams won’t ultimately clear him — but those decisions aren’t made until deep into April. We’ll need to wait some time to discover the reality of the situation.

On top of that we have the dip in performance we saw during the 2023 season. A reminder that his completion percentage dropped from 75% in the first five games to 60.1% in the next eight. During those same two splits, his PFF grade dropped from 87.4 to 70.9. I watched all of the games in this period and he simply didn’t play very well in a lot of games — chucking throws downfield to areas rather than with calculated precision, leading to a lot of incompletions. He still managed the special throws week-to-week and when needed, as we saw against Oregon State, he produced when the team needed a big-time conversion. Yet his performance level did drop — and increased pressure impacted him. This issue re-emerged against Michigan in the National Championship.

Then you have the lack of creative mobility. He isn’t a mad-improviser and a lot of teams want that. I get the sense John Schneider has been chasing Brett Favre throughout his time in Seattle and Penix Jr just isn’t that type. He has the arm — but he’s not extending plays and making the improbable happen on the move. The only real evidence of that was one great play against USC.

There are major pro’s and some con’s. The remarkable arm talent, ability to attack opponents to all levels of the field and the way he elevated Washington to new heights on the plus side. Then there’s the injury history, inconsistent performances and the lack of what the league loves these days — improv and escapability.

In Tannenbaum’s mock, he has Sean McVay taking the chance on the positives. But the key question in this scenario for us should be — is that a chance the Seahawks should take if he’s there at #16?

You could sit Penix Jr for one year, as the Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes. Or, you’d even have the option to try and trade Geno Smith post-June 1st, where you’d save $12.9m in cap space. You likely wouldn’t get much at that stage of the off-season, or going into camp, short of a critical injury for another team. But Smith would only cost a suitor $12.7m in salary. So there are options here for the Seahawks if they do indeed draft someone like Penix Jr and don’t feel the need to redshirt him.

After all — this is the team that signed Matt Flynn to a big contract (at the time), retained Tarvaris Jackson and then drafted Russell Wilson. They signed Flynn, fully in the knowledge that they really liked Wilson and wanted to draft him. I’d suggest they’re in a similar situation now. They have guys on the roster but while they’re looking for ‘the guy’ they could and should keep looking.

The mind wanders when you see a tweet like this from Jim Nagy, offering the opinion that he didn’t think the Seahawks would draft an offensive lineman in round one. My first reaction was to think that maybe Mike Macdonald had sold Schneider on the idea of building an epic defensive line and that could be the direction they go. What if Nagy actually was thinking quarterback? Or more specifically, Penix Jr?

There’s every chance Penix Jr is off the board by #16 — or the Seahawks can’t clear the medicals to justify taking him. Or pick another scenario — whether it’s not being sold on the elusiveness or they simply don’t think he’s significantly better than Howell. I’ll say again that I think the Howell trade was indicative that they probably don’t expect to draft a quarterback this year, or weren’t confident they could, and wanted insurance they felt comfortable in.

I also don’t think we should rule out Penix Jr in round one to Seattle. There was definitely something going on when Macdonald was appointed, with the repeatedly non-committal approach to answering questions about Geno Smith and the talking-up of Drew Lock. It felt very much like the were open to trading Smith — and Adam Schefter’s report on Twitter at the time virtually spelled that out. They’ve now pivoted to constantly talking-up Geno, while trading for Howell. Meanwhile, Grubb’s doing the pro-day rounds and they 100% know they need to draft a quarterback sooner rather than later.

They’ll never have as much info on a player as Penix Jr going into this draft. This could be the opportunity to get a guy they like without trading the farm to go up and get him. And while the Seahawks clearly have other needs on the team — nothing will do more to set this team up for contender status than drafting and hitting on a top-level quarterback.

I think there are still some interesting potential twists and turns to be had going into this draft. Schneider is in charge now, not Pete Carroll. I think he will be driven by the quarterback position until it’s solved long-term. He once reportedly wanted to draft Andy Dalton in the first round. Provided Penix Jr gets the injury green-light, it’s easy to imagine why Schneider might be very interested in his incredible arm. Keep him in mind at #16.

A final note for today — the LSU pro-day took place. I timed Mekhi Wingo’s short shuttle (you can watch it here) and I got a 4.38. Another excellent time which puts him in the same kind of agility range as Braden Fiske. You can watch my interview with Mingo here. If there are any other details from LSU or from Washington State (where the likes of Brennan Jackson and Jayden Hicks are also working out today) I’ll update the piece.